Showcase naturally printed felt wraps and silk scarves are now ready!

So far today I've washed out and ironed seven felt wraps and one wall hanging, four silk scarves still remain to be done. Once they're finished my orders from Showcase will be complete, tonight I'll send the shops and galleries a Pro Forma invoice then have gift boxes, cards etc. prepared ready to dispatch as soon as I hear back from them. Hopefully these first pieces will be on their way first early next week, if it hadn't been for the bad weather and lack of electricity I would have had everything done last Friday.

Here're a few of images of my latest merino, bamboo and Firestar wall hanging. I love the strength of the eucalyptus leaves, these were gathered from a tree that had been pruned, lucky me! The reverse of naturally printed textiles also fascinates me, sometimes appearing strongly printed whilst at other times subtle like an animal pelt, as with this one.

I also included a resist during the laying out phase of this piece, while the finished hanging could be used as a table runner the channel at the top makes it really simple to hang!

 

A few natural print images

Yesterday I spent the day printing nuno felt wraps, one silk scarf, a vintage silk skirt and a wall hanging, that is when I wasn't cuting myself with metal or catching the top of one finger in my tongs! I was very happy with the results of the silk scarf (a welcome but unexpected result!), skirt and wall hanging but although the wraps printed well they didn't have as dark colour a base colour as I was looking for so back to the felting table today.

The scarf had been bundled with eucalyptus leaves and wrapped around a copper pipe about a week ago and then I discovered that there just wasn't space to add it to the dye pot at that time. It sat in the studio and the silk got greener and greener (a bit like my hair!), once I took it out of the pot yesterday and opened it up I was thrilled with the speckles, a welcome surprise!

One of the joys of natural printing is the unbundling, although it is possible to predict to a large extent the results when using familiar organic materials, water and pot etc. there's always that unknown element that pops up to surprise on occasion!

Here's a detail from the wall hanging, this will either be heading to a gallery or onto my new online shop, the shop is what I'll be finishing this week as soon as I have the last of my Showcase orders fulfilled.

 

 

Houston calling and fun felting at Ballymurphy National School!

I'm really happy to confirm that I'll be heading on from a Dallas to teach for two days in Houston, thanks Barbara for inviting me! We're planning a one day felt vessel workshop on Monday 28th April followed by a one day natural printing workshop on Tuesday 29th, finalised details should be posted here tomorrow or the next day. Here're two pictures of a small naturally printed wrap that I felted last week, this time combining eucalyptus leaves with blackberry and rose leaves from my garden.

Now on to my main activity for a lot of last week…..

On Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday I had the pleasure of introducing the 50 pupils at Ballymurphy National School to the joys of working with fibre. This school is actually about ten minutes walk from Clasheen through the fields, obviously though I had to drive because otherwise I'd never have managed to bring all the necessary materials and bubble wrap!

For those of you living in countries with a different junior school system, usually children go to national (primary) school from the ages of 4 to 12, sometimes in small rural schools such as this there might be actuall classes with no pupils, strange but true!

Anyway, as you can see from this series of images a fabulous variety of stunning felt pictures was created. Inspiration was varied but the surrounding mountainous landscape and portraits were two popular themes. I'm going to load all the pictures I took to an album on Facebook later today, this way you can have a look plus all the pupils will have a reminder of what we got up to!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s official, Dallas TX here I come!

I'm delighted to announce that Suzanne Morgan and I confirmed last night Saturday 26th of April will be the date for my first ever teaching experience in Dallas, Texas! Because of a prior engagement we're keeping this to a one day natural printing workshop, participants will be asked to bring their own materials to print onto, felt, silk, wool and paper. All the details (including the price!) will be posted shortly, Suzanne is just working the logistics out now but if you're interested in attending please email her ASAP and she'll be able to answer most of your questions. I may also be teaching a workshop in Houston, please email me if you'd like to be kept in the loop for that, more details here and on FB as I get them!

To whet your appetite here's a picture of a wall hanging I felted and printed at the beginning of this week, I love it and have decided to keep it to hang at Clasheen!!! The base is 19.5 micron merino with a generous helping of soy fibre and Firestar, the leaves were eucalyptus and the pot had a big mushy handful of pomegranate skins which had already been used for a couple of print sessions. I deliberately folded it so that I had three uneven panels of leaves, now I just need another 10 hours a day as I really want to make a another piece!

 

 

 

 

 

Two naturally printed felt vessels

Following on from my first vessel of 2014 I've felted two more since the beginning of the week, this time they've been naturally printed. I had some lovely pomegranate skins and pith left after I cooked a big lamb, date and pomegranate tagine, what better use than to add them to a pot and let their colour influence a couple of bundles?

Here's a picture of the first vessel prior to printing, it's a combination of Portugese merino, mohair locks and a silk/linen blend for surface embellishment. On FB earlier in the week I mentioned that the fibre was bamboo, not so as I discovered once I printed it, I thought it felt a little different laying it out! Anyway, the giveaway was the fact that it appeared to take colour from the pot well. Bamboo, being a cellulose fibre, usually remains white after printing adding an interesting look to the felt (which I like), silk on the other hand is a protein fibre and takes the colour well so even thought this was a silk/linen blend it didn't really achieve the effect I had intended. Not to worry, here's the finished vessel.

I like the reverse

and side views better.

The second vessel is more of a bowl shape, I used the same Portugese merino with loads of Firestar on the outside (for sheen) plus the same silk/linen blend embellishing the inside.

I used a combination of different eucalyptus and blackberry leaves for this one, you can see a blackberry leaf in the inside centre with this birds eye view.

I particularly like the strong contrast of the reddish eucalyptus against the golden tones of the pomegranate on the base. Next time I'll bundle differently but use the same materials, I'd like to get those colours on the top of a bowl!

 

Website overhaul and the magic saucepan!

Today has been mentally consuming work but satisfying. I started early this morning on my long awaited website and blog overhaul, although unfortunately I couldn’t afford the professional help I had intended I’m happy with how it looks now so fingers crossed the functionality will be ok too. One of the main changes aside from the more streamlined look is a static homepage and the drop down menu for the gallery, hopefully those of you following this blog will get your updates too by email as per normal, I’d like to say notify me if you don’t but it you don’t get it how will you know to shout at me!

Showcase preparation continues apace. I’m collecting the first batch of silk and wool cushions from the local seamstress tomorrow morning and I’ve a pile of freshly ironed fabric to drop off at the same time. This fabric was printed in my largest aluminium pot, for those of you who’ve messaged me asking what the pot looks like with bundles inside, here’s a picture of it in all it’s glory!

A bundle simmers in a large pot of eucalyptus, onion skins and water

A bundle simmers in a large pot of eucalyptus, onion skins and water

 

Lexington workshop details for 23rd and 24th May announced and CA dates confirmed!

I’m delighted to say that I’ll be back teaching at The Tin Thimble in Loomis CA on 2nd, 3rd and 4th May. I absolutely love the time I spend here catching up with old friends, meeting new fibre fanatics, facilitating workshops and staying with the most wonderful and welcoming hosts, Sharon, Mark, Dawn, Morry, Jan, Bruce and Kevin, you’re the best!!! Over the next few days I’ll be finalising class descriptions for Loomis and Plainwell (9th and 10th) plus confirming what I’ll be teaching at the Kentucky Sheep and Fiber Festival (17th and 18th). Woo hoo, watch out US, here I come again!

In addition to my regular slot at the KSFF I’m back for the fourth time facilitating workshops for the wonderful Jan Durham in Lexington. This two day workshop (one day by arrangement) happens on 23rd and 24th May, there is also a possibility of an additional afternoon/evening class on 22nd, more about that another time! I’m really excited that we’ll be felting on Saturday and having a full day natural printing on sunday, here’s the full workshop description and an example of a naturally printed wrap. Please email Jan if you would like more information and to book your place!

May also be used as a wall hanging or a throw

Silk, merino, bamboo and Firestar nuno felt wrap, naturally printed with eucalyptus leaves, onion skins and tea leaves

NATURALLY INSPIRED – wearable felt and household textiles inspired by and printed with natural materials!

During this intensive two day workshop participants will have the opportunity to create a beautiful large nuno felt wrap, table runner or wall hanging using the tumble dryer method of felting. They will then have the opportunity to totally elevate it to another level as we experiment extensively with different methods of natural printing/dyeing using the bundling method.

Day one – using the no roll tumble dryer method of felting each participant will create a large nuno felt wrap, table runner or wall hanging, depending on the complexity of these pieces some people may also have time to felt additional samples to put in the dye pot on day two! This super easy technique of nuno felting will transform your arts practice if you’ve never tried it before and is ideal for anyone who finds the traditional rubbing and rolling hard on their body. Concentrating on simple shapes with optional ruffles, we’ll work in white and add a selection of un-dyed embellishing fibres to the lay out. Each fibre will take up the colour from the natural materials differently when put in the dye pot the following day, this leads to stunning wearable art or striking and unique interior accents.

Day two – wonderful results will be achieved by bundling the felt created on day one together with a selection of simple, easy to find natural plant materials, tying them up and then either steaming them or cooking the bundles in plant and/or rust enriched water. At the start of the second day Nicola will explain and demonstrate how different results when bundling are influenced by using different pre-treatments, materials, fabrics, dye pot solutions and ways of actually tying up the pieces. There will be plenty of samples for participants to study and before we dye the felt created on day one everyone is encouraged to put some smaller items of felt and fabric in the dye pot to get a feel for this method.

Participants are encouraged to bring along previously completed felt (bags and vessels too, not just wearables!) as well as plain thrift store clothes in wool or silk and these may all be included in the dye pot providing we have space!

NB Although this is a two day workshop participants may be accommodated for individual days by prior arrangement.

First felt wrap of 2014!

Yesterday I felted then naturally printed my first wrap of 2014!

Over Christmas I had collected leaves and seed pods from a variety of different eucalyptus trees, it's fascinating to see how these are reacting with the different fabrics I'm currently printing on in advance of Showcase later in the month. I also used my old staples of onion skins and tea leaves for some of the silk scarves, it amazes me every time how these simple kitchen ingredients impart their colour onto the silk or felt. This wrap is not rinsed or ironed yet so no photos of the complete piece, I just wanted to share a couple of pictures with you though to demonstrate how incredible the power of nature is! Doesn't this print remind you of a tree?

 

 

 

Happy holidays everyone!

Apologies for the lack of posting over the last week or so. Rex had an accident the Wednesday before Christmas and the normally hectic round at this time of year (market, pop up shop, Christmas celebrations and family time) has revolved around making sure he is comfortable and not left by himself for too long. In typical border collie style he was chasing a car up the lane in the dark and came back on three legs, although X-rays showed no broken bones the vets think that it may be soft tissue damage and take as long if not longer to heal. Anyway, today I'll be felting a wrap and getting a pot on for a bout of natural printing this afternoon, eucalyptus leaves also make a seasonal decoration for the front door!

I hope that you are all having a wonderful holiday season whatever your beliefs, stay safe and best wishes for a fabulous felt filled 2014!!!

 

 

A tidy printing and dyeing studio?

Work progresses slowly but surely on organising the garage as an efficient storage space cum printing and dyeing studio. Thanks to buddy George some of the larger items that were stored there have now been shifted and delivered to new homes, I've also taken the decision to sell (at a good discount!) some lovely hand made jute/hessian tool belts and fishermans smocks which I've been holding on to for sentimental reasons. These are stock that I held on to from a previous lifetime, I'm planning to post some pictures to my personal FB page later today so if anyone local is interested in any of them I'll bring them in my truck to Borris Food & Craft Market tomorrow morning.

On the felt and naturally printed side of things, I'll be bringing this silk/wool blend printed wrap to Borris too, I've a few sculptures in the pipeline, my last five silk scarves to wash out and iron in time for tomorrow, a selection of new fabrics ordered to print over the festive period and yesterday I updated my Showcase profile with new text and images. I'll leave you today with an image of a large nuno felt wrap/throw and a small silk cushion, this one is printed with rose and blackberry leaves from my garden with a little bit of onion in the dye pot.